Walls Closing in -
Crowded blood soaked recollection -
This is just a small hint of the opening stanza of Christopher Durish's first novel The Lobby. It's a book that, after a brief skimming, was supposed to put be put down in favour of more pressing titles. But what started out as a quick perusal ended up being the catalyst for reading the entire novel. A sure sign I was dealing with a horror writer with literary merit.
Zachary Bell is an up and coming yuppie in the world of advertising. He's a married father of two daughters with an ideal future living in
. But his existence resembles nothing that constitutes the American dream or adhering to values. For his nights are spent attending the sordid parties of the wealthy elite and succumbing to infidelity. More distressing is his apathy and utter lack of conscience. So when Zach's car plunges of a cliff in the aftermath of one of his infamous parties with his mistress at his side, it is little surprise he feels almost no remorse for her resulting death - New York
From here, we're treated to a kind of surrealistic Hell as Zachary awakens from a brief coma. He tries to return to the life he lived but has fleeting visions of the afterlife and the creatures of that realm. This is where things crank up, as Christopher paints a mesmerizing picture of the underworld's environs and those souls whom skate along the peripheral abyss. That said, The Lobby tackles the mythology of Hell. The Bible's mythology - and those who have found the implausibility of this folklore to be tiresome when trying to get their chills may be a little disappointed. However, an author like Christopher can certainly take the un-believable and make it believable. His prose is like an intricate webbing of the grotesque, maturely handled , and not bogged down with dialogue. This is a story that just begs to be translated into celluloid, and I was eerily reminded , pleasantly so , of novels like Dean Koontz's Hideaway or perhaps one of the latter (but better) Hellraiser flicks.
At times the horror can be a little clichéd in the details, and certain paragraphs will have the same word repeated numerous times - a pet hate of mine, but overall The Lobby is an excursion worth taking. The strengths of the book are the deft way the domesticity of family are handled and the oddly comforting chaos as Zachary is propelled toward his destiny. The novel is a slowly building crescendo and contains an ending which certainly isn't tacked on but played out with just the right editorial skill.
Without using any eloquence here, I just say I really enjoyed this book. It is one of those novels that feel pulpy but have a sophisticated style at the same time. The Lobby can be ordered from Sense of Wonder Press.